SMART, STRONG AND FEARLESS LEADERSHIP
Throughout my first term, I fought to transform the justice system in Saint Louis City to make it fair for everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. I have developed innovative policies to address the root causes of crime in Saint Louis while laying the groundwork to bring about its long-term reduction. This has not been an easy process, and many adherents to the old order I inherited tried to get in our way. But we’ve accomplished so much already, and I remain as committed today as I was when I took office nearly four years ago.
On this website, you will find information about some of our key accomplishments along with my vision for the future. We must never stop fighting and we must never stop developing new ideas for Saint Louis City.
One thing remains constant: We know what we are fighting for. It is: Justice for all.
Please take some time to navigate through this site and learn about what we’ve done, and will continue to do, for the residents of the City of Saint Louis.
Kimberly M. Gardner
In 2017, Kim took over an office primarily focused on charges, cases, and convictions. It was an office that adhered to the “tough-on-crime” mantra, which led to skyrocketing incarceration but not to any crime reduction. Through vision, hard work, and grit, Kim has transformed that office into one that is focused on community well-being and treats everyone with dignity.
Growing up in the heart of North St. Louis, I saw first-hand the effects of violent crime on too many of our St. Louis neighborhoods. As a young girl, I watched crime tear apart the fabric connecting so many individuals, families, and communities. Working in my family’s 72-year-old funeral home business, I witnessed the devastation of violent crime. I remain committed to making our neighborhoods safer for us all.
But I also know how ineffective traditional tough-on-crime approaches are and how detrimental they are to these same neighborhoods. For decades, I watched society’s commitment to using incarceration as a “one size fits all” solution to problems cause tremendous harm to disadvantaged communities, particularly those of color. Instead of providing services to victims and addressing the root causes of crime, law enforcement and prosecutors simply created a system that people cycled through, but they never received the treatment or help they really needed. And even then, we knew what research has now clearly shown us: long sentences do not prevent crime or make society safer, and using prison to address problems arising from substance use disorder or poverty fails to prevent crime. We knew our communities needed the government to invest in them, not throw all its money into locking people up.
I began my legal career at Bell, Kirksey & Associates. I left the firm to serve an Assistant Circuit Attorney for half a decade. As an Assistant Circuit Attorney, I saw the need for a public health approach to public safety. I returned to school and received a Master of Science in nursing from St. Louis University. With new insights gained from nursing, I ran for Missouri State Representative of the 77th District. I was elected by the voters and served for two terms.
A Different Approach
After over a decade in the legal profession, I realized that the City of St. Louis required a new type of leader — one who could see beyond traditional methods of addressing crime and find new ways to help my community heal. I believed that if Saint Louis City was going to become a fairer and more just place, it needed a leader who would bring together a wide array of professionals committed to solving the city’s long-entrenched problems. It needed someone with experience that stretched beyond prosecuting cases, someone who would stop finger-pointing and instead listen to the entire community, including the social workers who know how to identify effective treatment, the doctors with expertise in mental health and substance use disorders, experts who understand and can treat trauma, and the people whose lives are directly affected by crime and incarceration. Only then could the community approach crime like a public health issue and move towards becoming a safer and more just place.
That’s what I have done, and I am proud of it. Change doesn’t happen overnight, of course, and there is a long way to go. But I believe I have placed Saint Louis on the path toward a better tomorrow.